January 12, 2012

Other Doctors Could Learn From This Doctor

This doctor apparently is teaching other doctors as an instructor, but he does have some excellent points for discussion. His one thought of “How can I be a better doctor?” really drew my attention. He then describes the 4 C’s, which he says he learned from his mentors, colleagues, and patients. This makes him a doctor I would like to meet and get to know in a doctor-patient relationship. Whether he would be my doctor could be doubtful, but just getting to know him could be a worthy experience.

The four C's he lists are – competency, communication skills, compassion, and convenience. He states that there was a fifth C, but that has been resolved some decades ago and it was confidentiality. I'm sorry to mention this doctor, but this needs a revisit. Electronic medical records are making this even more important with the hackers breaking into medical records at an ever-increasing rate. While most record keepers are doing what they can, medical records are being exposed and accessed at every turn. Not only is it by insiders looking for the latest gossip, but by outsiders wanting access to expose confidential information and obtain money for their efforts.

In addition, I am sure he is referring to The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This for manual records has been great for doctors and hospitals and allows for discipline of staff that gets too curious and then collect the latest gossip about patients. The new electronic health records are supposed to covered, but as above they are being compromised.

He uses a very interesting discussion to emphasize doctor competency. This is why doctors should not be hesitant to consult with other doctors. We as patients are not supposed to be able to rate the competency of doctors, but we can often sense when a doctor is having problems with a diagnosis. We can also notice when doctors do not read the detail and ask the right questions, do some necessary testing, and sometimes we can sense by their tone of voice that they are just trying something hoping it will work.

Communication skills is a subject this doctor seems well versed in and knows what is necessary. He again uses a vivid example of lack of communication skills. We as patients need this communication. I makes us pay closer attention to the doctor and without it even the author agrees we are likely to seek doctors that will communicate with us.

Compassion can be difficult for some doctors especially if they lack communication skills. When my first wife was near death from cancer, the attending physician was probably the most compassionate doctor I have dealt with in my life. He knew her family was grieving and probably used his arsenal of communication skills to let us know that he was there for us and understood our grief. He answered our questions with compassion and described quite accurately what was ahead, but in a caring way.

The last C he covers is convenience. This is a difficult one to explain, as it will not always be convenient to get a referral even with your doctor’s intervention. Often in some rural areas, the specialist needed may be several hours away and booked up for a month or more. If you know your doctor is doing his best to get you in to see the specialist, and it is not an emergency, have patience. I have seen doctors refer patients to the emergency room to bypass logistical headaches, and get his patient taken care of, but I know this is frowned on heavily unless it is an actual emergency.

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